The hills were alive with the smell of barbecue! They were also alive with the sounds of music, ski swaps, and children playing with pumpkins, stuffing scarecrows, and preparing for the winter snow season.
We visited the Liberty Fall Fest event on Sunday, October 22, 2006, one day after the wonderful time at Whitetail (theirs went on for two days, and both were highly successful).
For me, the best part of visiting these two resorts was the sense that I was reuniting with an extended group of good friends. We have all been drawn together over the years by the love of snow and mountains. Both resorts - Whitetail and Liberty - are close to the Washington, D.C. Metro area, so it is natural to see hundreds, and maybe thousands of friends.
Liberty offers this sumptuous barbecue each autumn to thank and welcome back its season pass holders. Many were buying the passes or the Advantage Card when my husband Charles and I were there. Those who did not have the passes could still buy a barbecue ticket for a modest price. Then, you could eat all you wanted of the delicious country-style food, sit on the deck in the sun, look at the activities and the slopes, and anticipate! On this day, the golf course next door had more activity than the slopes, and the golfers had a beautiful day, playing in the sun and savoring the autumn leaves. But soon, they will give way to us - the resorts hope to open the first week of December. Sooner, if they get a “November surprise” such as the blizzard that blessed Colorado and Utah.
We had a great talk with President and General Manager Eric Flynn, as he took a break from selling passes and helped to clean up after the barbecue (in a resort area, everyone pitches in!). He said about 1,500 people attended the barbecue, and this is the tenth year of the event. There are all sorts of new improvements on the slopes. The Terrain Parks have doubled in size, with about 30 features, and there is a new Burton “Learn to Ride” Center, with 800 new boards to rent. Improvements have been made to the modern and exciting Boulder Ridge Tubing - great fun for all ages, and no special skill or equipment needed. The tubes do all the work, as you whiz, whirl, and wind down the snow lanes. A hill has been built up at the finish, so you fly up it, and slide back down, but do not crash into the barrier.
Eric told us there are more snowmaking towers and slope lights on the mountain this year. The intermediate chair lift, Dipsy Doodle, has graduated from a double to a quad. In fact, some of the old double chairs were sold off during the barbeque, with the proceeds going to adaptive ski programs. Dipsy is between the beginner Magic Carpet and the more advanced chairlifts, so the newest skiers and riders can make an easy and natural transition.
The Adaptive programs, Special and Para Olympics, get great support from a large group of dedicated volunteers from the local metropolitan areas. They include the super instructor and former banker “blonde bombshell” Trippie Penland. She has been my neighbor and friend for years, and when she gets involved in a project, it is done with energy and perfection! The Liberty Adaptive Program is run by the devoted couple, Leslie and Dick White. They have about 25 instructors and 10 volunteers. Last year, they had about 125 students. The challenged students usually take a four hour lesson for $59. This includes use of the special equipment, the lifts, and the instruction. The Liberty instructors are working with groups at Whitetail. These Adaptive groups can use all the donations they can get - it is expensive, painstaking work.
Whatever your focus, the winter is coming soon, and you will be able to take a relatively short drive to “liberate” yourself at Liberty and other local ski resorts!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.